The Chaos Engine is a top-down run and gun video game developed by The Bitmap Brothers and published by Renegade Software in 1993. The game is set in a steampunk Victorian age in which one or two players must battle the hostile creations of the titular Chaos Engine across four landscapes and ultimately defeat the Chaos Engine and its deranged inventor.
It was first released for the Commodore Amiga, a version available for AGA Amigas, and later ported to MS-DOS, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari ST, Amiga CD32, Amiga 500, RISC OS and Sega Mega Drive platforms. In the SNES and Sega versions, the character The Preacher had his clerical collar removed and was renamed The Scientist. The U.S. versions of these two ports were retitled Soldiers of Fortune. A sequel to the game, The Chaos Engine 2, was released in 1996.
The setting is a steampunk Victorian era England. A time traveller on a reconnaissance mission from the distant future became stranded in England of the late 1800s, and his technology came into the hands of the Royal Society led by Baron Fortesque (based upon Charles Babbage), a grand inventor. Fortesque then retro engineered many of the futuristic contraptions, creating an entirely different, alternate timeline.
Baron Fortesque then succeeded in his greatest creation yet - the Chaos Engine - which was able to experiment with matter, and the very nature of space and time. Unfortunately for the rest of the proud kingdom, the Engine then proceeded to become sentient and captured and assimilated its creator, then began to change the countryside for the worse. Vile monsters and destructive automata appeared everywhere, and even prehistoric beasts were resurrected. Telegram wires connecting the British Isles to the European mainland are cut, and any ship attempting to enter a British port is attacked. The British Royal Family, along with members of Parliament and a large number of refugees manage to escape across the sea, bringing with them many tales of horror. The British Empire is left in tatters, and the world in economic and political chaos. This lures a number of mercenaries on a potentially rewarding quest to infiltrate the quarantined Britain, find the root of the problem and swiftly bring a full stop to it.
There are four worlds, each consisting of four levels. The worlds (in order of visitation) are "Forest", "Workshops", "Fortesque Mansion", and "The Cellars", each with its own dynamic industrial music score. The players must traverse through each level, picking up power-ups, gold and keys to pass through the various puzzles and mazes. A number of "nodes" must be activated via weapon fire to open the final doors at the end of the level. Secret routes and hidden items are plentiful along the way. At the end of every second level the player has a chance to spend their collected riches to upgrade their weapons, increase the number of hit points of their character, purchase new items and improve other character attributes. Finally, at the end of the cellars in the hall of machines the players will face up to the Chaos Engine itself in a last battle. Upon its destruction, the narrator of the game is revealed to be the Baron himself, trapped within the machine and studded with implants.